North Suburban Y Supports Cancer Survivors
By Lori Minichiello, YMCA Member
I was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in April 2009. Just before the diagnosis, I found a lump in my left breast and went to my primary care doctor. She immediately recommended I get an additional screening at the Hoffman Breast Center at Mount Auburn Hospital. I am so thankful that she took immediate action; we could be having a very different discussion right now.
I underwent a lumpectomy and they removed 3 lymph nodes and found a trace of cancer in one. This meant not only an additional surgery but also chemotherapy and radiation. Ironically, just a few months prior to my diagnosis, our daughter donated her hair to Locks of Love – totally her idea. So when we all sat as a family to discuss the diagnosis, the kids were pretty upset about that fact that mommy would probably lose her hair.
I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner, my mom and all of my family and friends. My sister-in-law came in from California, helping tremendously by coming to my doctor’s appointments. My partner’s mom came up from North Carolina and stayed with us for weeks at a time during each treatment to help with the kids. Other relatives, friends and neighbors were great as well, dropping off food, taking the kids for play dates, or making donations in my name. After one procedure, I opened my door to find magazines, puzzle books and treats. The random acts of kindness were continually astounding.
My six chemo treatments, followed by 33 radiation treatments, was a very difficult time due to my Dad’s illness. He passed away on one of my last days of radiation. It was after the final treatment that I felt low,
feeling that with no more treatments ahead, I was no longer fighting the cancer. I felt like I needed to do something good for my body to keep up the fight.
I noticed the North Suburban YMCA was offering a free Pink Program. This sounded like a perfect starting point. A safe place to learn how to move my body again, counseled by a knowledge leader, surrounded by people who knew what I had gone through. It was not only a perfect way to gradually start exercising, but I had no idea how meaningful it would be to connect with other women who were also dealing with breast cancer.
Our instructor Debbie kept us continuously engaged, introducing different workout equipment and allowing us to talk while we exercised. The Pink Program became my perfect jumping off point to a new life of healthy living. In addition, I met a great group of women and we’ve continued to stay in touch and share breast cancer stories. The Y gave me an opportunity to maintain my health that I so very value.
For more information on the YMCA Pink Program and our other cancer support programs, contact the Welcome Center at 781.935.3270 or visit www.ymcaboston.org/woburn and discover the Y in you.